Farmer-owned and operated ice cream parlor in Burren ready for high demand during heatwave – The Irish Times

Running an ice cream parlor and farm during the current heat wave is no small feat, but Bríd Fahy and her husband Roger are two cool customers who are preparing well for the expected spike in demand as temperatures soar this week.

Located on the beautiful Flaggy Shore in the heart of the Burren along Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, the duo run Linnalla Ice Cream, one of the few farmer-owned and operated ice cream parlors in Ireland.

“I have the cold room well stocked with ice creams ready for customers this week,” Bríd told the Irish Times.

“Milking usually starts at 6:30 a.m. every morning and we use all our milk and cream to make the ice cream. Our main herd is made up of 80 British Friesian cows but we also raise a small number of traditional Dairy Shorthorn cows, and it is their milk that we use for ice cream.

Roger is the sixth generation to farm on the Finaverra Peninsula, while Bríd was originally a nurse. The couple struggled to cope and profit from the farm before deciding to branch out.

Almost all the fields on the farm touch the sea and in the summer the Fahys have to watch the tide to make sure the cows don’t run aground.

“We have a very fragmented farm on a peninsula and we were told there was no money in farming and we had to diversify,” says Bríd.

“We had three young children at the time and I commuted almost daily to Galway and overall the work/life balance was pretty poor. We realized the only thing we knew was the milk, we thought about making fudge or cheese but settled for ice cream.

The ice cream industry is worth 150 million euros in Ireland, 70% of which is made up of store-bought ice cream sales, meaning that for Bríd’s café and parlor to succeed, it would need to ensure that its ice cream stands out. She traveled to the UK and Bologna in Italy to attend ice cream making courses where she learned how to develop her own unique artisan ice cream on the farm.

“Americans like a very rich ice cream with a high fat content of 15%, but the fat can actually mask the flavor,” she says.

“The Irish generally like an ice cream with a fat content of around 8%, which is suitable for the milk we produce on the farm. We don’t like it as greasy as Americans and like to taste our flavors. Italians, on the other hand, will opt for a much lower fat content of 4%, as they like a very creamy gelato but add a lot of fruit and sugar.

Perfecting her craft has become second nature to Bríd and while she offers the traditional staples of vanilla, chocolate and mint, she has also experimented with local and seasonal flavors.

“We currently have apple pie ice cream, but we’ve also had rhubarb and custard, and wild sloe, but I only make enough ice cream to supply our own living room, so we’re a small business.”

While the hot weather is good news for the ice cream business, it can make farming more difficult, with grass growth slowing in many parts of the country.

“One of the challenges of farming on the Flaggy Shore is that the soil is thin and will burn much faster than in other areas. The grass started to burn and a week or two ago we had to feed the cows some silage that we had set aside for the winter, but that’s one of the challenges of the farming in the Burren.

The pandemic has also proven to be a difficult time for many Burren businesses that rely on tourism and Bríd says being part of the Burren Eco-Tourism Network has been a huge source of support.

With tourist season back in full swing and a strong US dollar, many businesses are enjoying the return to action and Bríd is quick to point out that the Flaggy Shore should be on everyone’s map this summer.

“Seamus Heaney wrote that the Flaggy Shore was the place to ‘catch the heart off guard and blast it,'” she says.

“People should take the opportunity to experience the beauty of the place, and perhaps a scoop of ice cream, for themselves.”

About Thomas B. Countryman

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